Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Kenny with my Grandpa-spring 2007

Last night was a sad evening. My grandfather passed away after a long and painful illness. I have talked on this blog more than once about the fact that I am 31 and still had all of my grandparents still living. I am sad to report that record has been broken.

My grandpa is a fighter who has been sick off and on for years. He has had several strokes and had recovered remarkably well from each one. Early this year, he had another but was able to go home before long. Then, he was back in the hospital with gall bladder issues and it looked like he was headed to gall bladder surgery. However, in testing, they found he had a very aggressive form of Leukemia. There was a very aggressive form of chemo, but the doctors said with his age and health, he would likely die from the chemo and there just wasn't much they could do. So, Grandpa left the hospital under hospice care to my Aunt Margie's house, where he had been living the last several months as his health declined. The doctors had said he probably only had a few weeks to live. This was back in late January. For the past three months, he has been getting steadily sicker and more miserable. I was so sad at the thought of losing him, but also didn't want to see him suffer. For that reason, though I am sad tonight, I also feel a sense of relief, that he is whole again and in no more pain.

My dad called me this evening to say it was looking really bad and he would probably not make it through the night. He said I could come if I wanted, but understood if I didn't. I initially chose not to because I had been blessed with the opportunity to visit him before and tell him I loved him and would miss him. Plus, I was afraid I would be in the way. Then, around 9:30, my dad called me to let me know it was getting worse. I could tell he was really struggling and suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that I HAD to get there. I think I left within two minutes of hanging up the phone. When I got there, he was resting peacefully. He hardly looked like the Grandpa I know and I thought that this wasn't fair to him. He was too good of a man to be stuck in that sick body. I could just feel it that he was ready to leave that body behind. Just before 10:15, his breathing changed and he opened his eyes, which seemed glazed and he clearly wasn't looking at anything in the room. I remember having this overwhelming thought that he was asking "okay, I am ready to go, how do I let go." Within a minute or so after that, he stopped breathing and my aunt (who has been caring for him this whole time, even taking a leave of absence from her job as a nurse) and my mom (who is also a nurse) confirmed that he had passed. I remember looking at the clock- about 10:12 or so, when we knew he was going any minute and smiling to myself when I realized the clock was just after 10:10, which is where the time is always set on clocks in catalogs because it looks like they are smiling. I thought that Grandpa and our Heavenly Father were smiling at us telling us he would be okay.

Of course, everyone was in tears (myself included), but I thought to myself with an inner chuckle that Grandpa was probably in the middle of the room looking at all of us and saying, "Why is everyone so sad, I finally feel great!!!" It was so heartbreaking when my grandma broke down in sobs. They have been married 63 years and I can only imagine the pain she was feeling. There was a large amount of family surrounding him. I remember being impressed that there were so many there, yet the mood was so reverent and respectful and quiet even when I first got there. I never did count, but as my memory serves, I think there was about 17 people there. It was truly an honor to be there beside his bed as he journeyed home.

I will miss him dearly, but I am thankful he is at peace. He was an amazing man and I never doubted his love for us. I am grateful that I was able to spend some time with him during this last year. I have many examples, but there are two that stand out most in my mind. First, last August, I drove him and my dad, along with my two girls to a family reunion in southern Ohio.He marveled over my girls and we all had such a great time together. It was a long trip and I don't drive well with long distances. I kept him talking because it helped me stay awake. Plus, maybe I knew my time with him was limited and I wanted to hear his stories more than ever. That day meant so much to me.

Second, in January, when he was diagnosed with the terminal Leukemia, I went to see him, fearing it would be the last time. I told him I loved him and as I left, I was really having trouble holding back the tears. I turned to look at him as I walked out and saw he was crying. I have always known he loves me, but I felt it stronger in that moment then ever before. Needless to say, there wasn't a dry eye in the room when I hugged him again.

Tonight, he was not awake when I got there, but my mom said she was sure he could hear me. I told him I was there and that I loved him and I could see him move his head toward me a little, so I am sure he heard.

This post has been long already, but I really wanted to get all this down, mostly for myself, as a way to process it all and be sure I didn't forget anything. But, I am going to continue writing because I want tell the world just a little about this amazing man.

He was born January 17th, 1927 (so, today he is 82 years old.) He has been married to my Grandma for 63 years. The first picture below was taken in the late 1950's. The second was taken November 2000. I love this first picture and wish I could go back in time and talk to them and hear about their life then.
They have 3 children, 7 grandchildren, 11 great-grand children and 1 great-great-grandchild.
Here he is with my grandma and behind them are their 3 children (Debbie, my dad, and Margie)
He has always been a hard worker and my dad tells of times he would work more than 24 hours in a stretch just to provide the basics for the family- usually without eating himself. He always did so without complaining- even when times got tough. My grandmother spent several months hospitalized due to illness and he stayed beside her in a way many men would not- visiting her daily in addition to work and doing whatever he could to care for her. He is the true example of loving and commitment "in sickness and in health."

In world war II, he was in the Navy and served on the USS Anderson. in 1946, the ship was bombed and he was one of 3 to survive. ALL of the other crew died in the bombing. My dad has told stories of him having to help pull those that killed out of the water- a very gruesome task.

He was a man who believed in hard work, who loved his family and would do anything- even at his own expense- to help someone who needed him. He loves his children and grandchildren and always loved to spend time with them. He loved the Lord and always strived to do his best at everything he did. He was an amazing father, grandfather, husband and person. He will be missed.

In closing, I have not been able to stop thinking of the following hymn, so I will include the verse here:

God be with you till we meet again;
By his counsels guide, uphold you;
With his sheep securely fold you.
God be with you till we meet again.
Till we meet, Till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus feet,
Till we meet, Till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.


Sara Emily said...

Awesome post, Amanda. I am going to steal some of these pictures for a future post. I will miss Grandpa, but my heart breaks for Grandma - that's got to be hard. I am sad I was unable to be there, but I'm glad you were there. Thank you for calling me to let me know.

Katie said...

Watching some one get steadily sicker is definitely painful. I am sorry for your loss. Great pictures and great memories.

Crying is totally justified. Doctorine and covenants 42:45 "Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die."

What a blessing to have known your Grandpa for so many years. I bet you have a much closer relationship to have known him as an adult.

Thinking of you.

Breezi said...

I was crying your whole post. I lost my first grandparent less than a year ago... it's still hard to handle.
You were so blessed to be able to be with him as he passed. What a beautiful experience.
Sending you big hugs!

Kelly said...

Like Breezi, I was crying at the title- I knew immediately what it was about...I am so sorry- I feel your pain- I lost my paternal Grandfather when I was pregnant with Alex under very similar circumstances, and so it really triggered some emotions. I know he is happy, like you said, but still here it is heartbreaking. I remember holding my Grandfather's hand just hours before he passed (he was with hospice at home)- totally incoherent to the world, and I told him I loved him and he squeezed my hand. He hadn't done that before to anyone. I treasure that moment. I told him my love for him, I was his "Kelly girl"- love that is true. Grandfather love is like no other- I am sorry for your loss and for your family's loss too- my heart and prayers are with you all.
Please let me know if you need any help this week or with funeral stuff- I am available! Love you!

Busy Mom said...

Sorry to hear about your loss! I understand about losing your grandparents. They are such an important part of our life.

Amy said...

You, your family and especially your Grandma will be in my prayers.
My heart aches for her. I know the peace of letting a loved on go after watching them with such an illness - it doesn't make it any easier though. God Bless you for your AWESOME post celebrating your Grandpa's amazing life. What an amazing man - now I see where you get your great qualities from.
May God give you peace that passes all undertanding.
Love ya!

trentnjeanmorello said...

I am so sorry! It is so hard losing someone so close to you...sounds like your Grandpa is an amazing man. If you need anything...let me know!